What did I just say? I said, lose weight the sumo way. Sounds crazy I know, but in reality, it isn’t. Sumo may be known for their shear size and bulging bellies, but the food they eat is actually amazingly healthy.
Their diet is based around lean meat, fish, vegetables, tea, and rice. Not bad, eh? The fact of the matter, is that most young Sumo aren’t fat at all. They only become that way through eating an excess amount of calories over the course of a number of years. But, if they ate what they ate in normal portion sizes, they’d never get big. The food is just too healthy.
Sumo don’t eat deep fried twinkies, hoho’s, potato chips, cotton candy, corn dogs, nacho’s with all that fake cheese, or any other kind of fair ground food.
So what do they eat?
Chanko Nabe is a large soup or stew filled with all the FORMER ingredients (certainly not the latter ones, ick!). And is often made in a base of both white and red miso. It’s relatively easy to make, and packs a big punch of protein and vegetables. Eaten by itself, it is the perfect diet food. If you need more carbs (trying to bulk up), you can add in rice.
And it is infinately variable depending upon what you decide to put into the pot.
Here’s one from Banzuke:
Chanko-Nabe Miso-Aji (Sumo-Style Pork and Miso Hot Pot)
This is the recipe used by junior wrestler Kotofubuki at the Sadogatake sumo stable, just outside Tokyo. Like other nabes, this one may be cooked in the kitchen at home and served at the table.
2 1/2 tsp. instant dashi flakes
1 lb. thinly sliced pork belly
3 tbsp. sake
2 tbsp. mirin (sweet rice wine)
3 tbsp. red miso
3 tbsp. white miso
1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled, sliced crosswise on the bias, and blanched
2″ piece daikon, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise, and blanched
1 medium waxy potato, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise and blanched
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise, and blanched
10 oz. firm tofu, Cut into 2″ cubes
8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps halved
2 oz. enoki mushrooms, trimmed
1 2.8-oz. package abura-age (deep-fried tofu), cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1/4 head napa cabbage, cored and cut into large pieces
16 bunch nira (flat Chinese chives)
4 cups steamed Japanese short-grain rice or 1 lb. udon noodles (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
1. Bring 10 cups cold water to a boil in a wide medium pot over high heat. Add dashi flakes, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring until flakes completely dissolve, about 1 minute. Add pork, sake, and mirin to dashi and simmer, skimming any foam that rises to surface, until pork is tender, 15-30 minutes. Dissolve red and white misos in 1 cup broth from pot in a small bowl, then stir back into pot.
2. At the table, set pot of pork with broth on a portable stove in center of table and bring to a simmer over medium heat (you could just do this on your home stove, of course). Add carrots, daikon, potatoes, onions, firm tofu, mushrooms, fried tofu, cabbage, and chives, in that order, and simmer until vegetables are just soft, about 5 minutes. The hot pot is now ready to be eaten “self-serve” style in medium bowls.
3. Once all the pork, vegetables, and tofu have been eaten, use a small sieve to pick out scraps. Bring remaining broth in pot back to a simmer, then add rice or noodles, if using, and stir in eggs, if using. Simmer until broth is absorbed by rice, about 5 minutes, or until noodles are cooked through, 6-8 minutes. Divide between bowls.